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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Robot bomb disposal on the Rez

Operating a remote control near the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s Ziibiwing Center Thursday, Josh Graff guided a robot toward an abandoned trailer to retrieve a suspicious package. Graff, who works on the bomb squad based at the state police Crime Lab in Grayling, came to Mt. Pleasant Thursday to show Tribal employees and first responders how the bomb robot is used following an explosives awareness program he oversaw a month ago.

Graff, a detective sergeant with the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad, moved the F6A Remotech robot to a small package in the trailer as a group of Ziibiwing employees, Tribal police, Tribal firefighters and others looked on.

A slight glitch -- when leaving the trailer, the robot tipped off the stairs -- didn’t stop Graff, from showing the group the dangers involved in retrieving suspicious packages.
“It’s like anything else,” Graff, a former trooper at the Mt. Pleasant post, said. “It’s not fail proof.”
Graff learned from the robot slipping off the stairs.
“In this case, it was user error,” he said. “It’s good to see that because that can happen on a potential call.
“You have to improvise and move forward.”

“They have us come every year,” he said. “It’s a precaution.” Thursday’s presentation included Graff using the robot to retrieve the suspicious bag, taking it to a portable X-ray machine and showing the group that the package contained a pipe bomb.

Because the Ziibiwing Center is in close proximity to Tribal operations first responders and court, along with the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, the training and Thursday’s presentation were offered because of the potential threat and number of people who could be affected in a bomb incident, Graff said.

Graff used the robot to shoot a high velocity stream of water at the bag to destroy it, then shoot the end cap off the pipe bomb once it was exposed, eliminating the risk of detonation.Such training is important, Graff said, because any business or person can be at risk.Businesses such as the casino, where large groups of people gather, are at more risk, Graf said.

Reporting by Clare Managing Editor Susan Field

Assistance by Sun Staff Writer Patricia Ecker

Photos by Joseph Sowmick, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Evening in the Park 2008

Here is the schedule for Evening in the Park 2008:

• June 17: Central Michigan Area Concert Band
7 p.m. A popular favorite is back again to open the 30th anniversary of the summer season. Local musicians play show tunes, marches and old favorites.
Wright Park, Alma (Rain location: Alma High School)

• June 24: Container Gardening
7 p.m. Get tips from the master himself when Bob Eldridge, director of Keep Michigan Beautiful, shares his know how on the popular gardening trend.
Breckenridge Historical Society Museum on M-46. (Rain location: Breckenridge High School)

• July 8: Love and Romance in Early Gratiot County
7 p.m. From free love to chivarees, local historian Dave McMacken takes us back to the late 1880s and the customs, traditions, and yes, the scandals that enveloped the lovelorn even then. An evening you’re sure to remember.
Leppien Park, St. Louis (Rain location: St. Louis High School)

• July 15: Gratiot Idol Finalists
7 p.m. The stars of the summer’s hit will entertain at the Masonic Pathways for a stellar performance you won’t want to miss.
Masonic Pathways grounds. (Rain location: Doig Chapel)

• July 22: New Moonshine Band
7 p.m. Bluegrass music with a little flavor of the South tops tonight’s agenda.
Bring your friends for a most enjoyable evening.
Clapp Park, St. Louis (Rain location: St. Louis High School)

• July 29: Not Just for Kids?
7 p.m. It’s fun for the whole family when jugglers and a magician take center stage tonight from Ithaca. Bring the kids for a special treat they are sure to like.
Woodland Park, Ithaca (Rain location: Ithaca Community Center)

• Aug. 5: Bob Crist and Friends
7 p.m. An evening of jazz is just the ticket as Bob and his friends return for another outstanding performance.
Woodland Park, Ithaca (Rain location: Gratiot County Commission on Aging.)

• Aug. 12: Starry Starry Night
Dusk Wind up the summer season on the Alma College campus for a look at the night sky. It’s star gazing at its best.
Alma College (Rain location: Alma College planetarium.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stevenson Lake Road barn fire

Clare and Surrey Township Fire Departments responded to a barn fire on Stevenson Lake Road, East of Isabella Road, late on Wednesday night. The barn was destroyed and a little of the surrounding grass was burnt.

Sun Photograph by RYAN EVON

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meet of Champions

Images from the Meet of Champions on Tuesday.

These and other images are up for purchase Here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day in Mt. Pleasant

Here are some pics from today's parade...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

10 Questions with "The School of Rock"

10 Questions with "The School of Rock" radio hosts Marty Curry, Jeff Smith and Trey Stohlman.

The video of this weeks, and previous weeks (if you scroll down the list), can be found Here.

Sun Photographs by RYAN EVON

Highland Festival - Images and Video

A multitude of images from the 41st annual Highland Festival in Alma.

There is also a video for your viewing pleasure Here.

Sun Photographs by RYAN EVON

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Don't lose sight of who we remember

By now, most everyone is likely enjoying their three-day holiday weekend - the unofficial start of summer.
I’m sure there are a lot of plans for family get-togethers, picnics, barbecues, trips Up North, attending the Highland Festival, and of course watching the Red Wings play for the Stanley Cup, the Pistons in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, and Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, among assorted other celebrations.
Those are all great ways to spend some time off work and I will probably be doing some of the same things.
But I’m wondering just how many of us will take some time out of our busy schedules to think about why we have the opportunity to enjoy an extended weekend.
Monday is Memorial Day. Hopefully, we all know what that represents. It’s a day to honor those military veterans who paid the ultimate price for their country. They died so that we can continue living in a free nation.
Sure we can complain about the economy going into the crapper, the high cost of fuel, food and health care; the lack of jobs, illegal immigrants, Social Security, our government leaders, or whatever else is on our minds (just read Sound Off).
But hey, at least we have the right to complain about almost anything we want without fear that we will be imprisoned, tortured or shot for our views.
We have that right not because of the Declaration of Independence, but because generations of servicemen have fought and died to ensure the freedoms outlined in that great document were never taken away from us by some egomaniac foreign dictator who wanted to rule the world.
For all of its shortcomings, there still is no better place to live than the Good Old USA.
Sometimes it seems we take the things we have for granted and we worry too much about what we don’t have.
I’ve spoken to numerous World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans over the years. Many don’t like to talk about what they experienced without some prodding.
After hearing their stories I can’t imagine what it was like having bombs and mortars exploding around you, being shot at, watching your friends die and wondering if you will be next.
Those of us who have never been through it will never be able to comprehend the true horror.
I didn’t have to serve in the armed forces much less fight in a war. No, I wasn’t a Draft Dodger or sneak off to Canada to avoid military service.
I was a teenager during the Vietnam era and although I was in college at 18 there were no more deferments for that. I was subject to the draft just like everyone else.
At that time they had initiated a “draft lottery” according to your birthday. Your draft status was subject to the whim of the draw. The lower your number the better chance you had of being drafted. If I recall, my number was 32.
Not good. I was sure I would be getting one of those letters that began with “Greetings.”
Actually the first letter I receive told me I had to catch the bus in Alma for a trip to Detroit for my physical.
But then I got another notification that said it had been canceled and to await further instructions. I waited and waited. Finally I heard - Nixon had ended the draft and I was no longer subject to induction. Whew.
I was certainly happy but there were times I felt some guilt. I had friends and relatives in the military and fighting in Vietnam. Fortunately the war ended a short time later.
Maybe that’s why I feel even stronger about the sacrifices our servicemen made for their country. I never had to put my life on the line but they did.
Unfortunately, American soldiers are still dying overseas. That’s why it’s time to bring them home. Why do we feel the need to protect the Iraqis and those in other Middle Eastern nations from themselves?
I’m a firm supporter of our troops but no more dads, sons, brothers or nephews should have to die there.
This Memorial Day take some time to honor those who have helped make this the greatest nation on earth. Remember the dead and recognize the living. Attend one of the local parades or holiday observances or just pause for a moment to say a prayer and give thanks. Better yet, tell a veteran you appreciate what they have done.
God bless all of those who have courageously served their country and those who are still doing so.
God bless th USA.
Greg Nelson is a Morning Sun staff writer. He can be reached at or by calling 989-463-6071, ext. 15.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day closings

These government offices and businesses will be closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day:
• Veterans Memorial Library in Mt. Pleasant; also closed Sunday.
• Isabella County offices
• Union Township offices
• Isabella County Sheriff Department business office: Open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
• City of Mt. Pleasant including business offices at City Hall, Public Safety and Public Works. There will be no refuse or curbside recycling collection for city residents Monday. Collection will be one day behind schedule for the remainder of the week.
• Morning Sun offices in Mt. Pleasant and Alma
• City of Clare
• Clare County offices
• City of Harrison
• Secretary of State (all locations)
• Post Offices (all locations)
• Firstbank locations
• Isabella Bank
• National City branches
• Commercial Bank locations
• Chemical Bank locations
• Gratiot County offices
• City of Alma
• City of Ithaca
• City of St. Louis
• Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce
• Isabella County Transportation Commission
• Isabella County Senior Center/Commission on Aging
• Gratiot County Commission on Aging/Home Delivered Meals
• Isabella County Recycling Center
Reporting: Jeremy Dickman in Mt. Pleasant

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beal City Baseball and Softball

The Beal City Aggies took on the Pine River Bucks in baseball and softball on Tuesday. Both Beal City teams were victorious.

Shots from both games are available Here.

Sun Photographs by RYAN EVON

Monday, May 19, 2008

Alma High School Baseball

Some shots from the first game of Alma's double header against Chesaning on Monday.

These shots should be available Here for purchase.